Saturday, May 19, 2007

A possible Durbin-Bush Iraq War Funding Deal?

Jeff Berkowitz: As you know, the news reported today that the Iraq War funding meeting attended by House Speaker Pelosi, House Minority Leader Boehner, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and others was characterized by the attendees as “disappointing,” but that the Bush Administration is now willing to accept a tying of a loss of financial assistance to the Iraqi government if they don’t meet political and military milestones. Is that your understanding [of the Bush administration offer] and would that be sufficient to resolve the war funding issue?

Senator Dick Durbin: We have made some progress. For a long time, the situation was that the Bush Administration was not holding the Iraqi government accountable and now benchmarks [would] hold them accountable. The question is, if they fail, what’s the price? There comes a point where the United States has to acknowledge the obvious. As our generals tell us, we cannot win this by military means. It will take a political solution. If the Iraqis can’t summon the political will to deal with the situation, it’s just unfair to leave our soldiers in the crossfire of this war indefinitely, so the important question now is—with benchmarks, what price will the Iraqis pay if they fail to meet them.

Jeff Berkowitz: What price do you think you would require during negotiations in order to continue funding the Iraq War?

Senator Dick Durbin: The most obvious thing that the Bush administration may accept is that we would cut-off the economic aid to the Iraqis if they don’t make the important political decisions. I would go further. We have been in this War almost four years. They have promised us deadlines and timetables over and over again that they have failed to meet. There comes a point when we say to them, “that’s it. Our soldiers are going to start to leave. At this point, the Iraqi soldiers have to stand up to defend their own country.”

Jeff Berkowitz: Roughly, what does that amount to, in terms of economic aid that would be cut-off?

Senator Dick Durbin: You know, there is so much. At this point, the President is asking for two billion dollars, but there are so many billions that we have given them in the past that are just backed up in accounts that they are unable to spend. You know they can’t provide the basics in this country because they can’t resolve the civil war. As long as this war is going on and they are blowing up electric power stations, the people of Baghdad don’t have electricity; [they have] no chance to work and they are unhappy. So, unless and until they deal with their civil war-- their internal struggle—all the American money in the world is not going to solve this problem.
Senator Dick Durbin, interviewed after a World Vision, One Campaign Water for Life Rally held after work on May 18, 2007 in the Federal Plaza, Chicago Loop [See here]. Speaking at the rally [attended by more than a hundred, mostly young adults] were Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky [D-Evanston, 9th CD], Senator Durbin [D-IL] and others. Live music by the Giving Tree Band. Shades of Monterey Pop, almost forty years ago, with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix et al. Okay, not quite, but still, pretty good music for early Friday evening in the Loop. Maybe even good to dance to, I'd give them an "85."
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at